Celebrate cinema during the holidays

Firstlight: Academy Screenings on Maui will get into full swing during the next several weeks at Castle Theater in Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.

More than 10 days of Hawaii premieres, special screenings and encores, 30 films in all, will entice moviegoers intermittently from Wednesday to Jan. 5 in what the promoter calls “Maui’s movie palace.”

When announcing this year’s opening night Twilight Premiere that will screen at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Festival Director and Curator Barry Rivers teased that it “was being kept a secret surprise until now.”

“Called ’12-12-12,’ the film is an up-close-and-personal backstage (and onstage) pass at the concert that raised $50 million to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims,” he says. “You’ll see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder, Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and The Who.”

At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Rivers will screen the Starlight Premiere of “Saving Mr. Banks” at the MACC.

Starring Academy Award-winning actors Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, as well as Golden Globe winners Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell, Academy Award nominee Rachel Griffiths and Jason Schwartzman, “Saving Mr. Banks” is about Walt Disney and his epic life.

“FirstLight presents the best films of the year, at the best time of the year, in the best venue in Hawaii,” explains Rivers. “Since we began 15 years ago, every single Academy Award-winning Best Picture has screened at FirstLight. All of us at the festival take great pride in being able to be right in the middle of Awards Season frenzy. It makes for a lot of fun times.”

Upcoming FirstLight highlights are Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”; “Her” from Spike Jonze; and “Nebraska” with Bruce Dern in a “performance of his life.”

– by Carla Tracy